Posts Tagged ‘dessert’

Beyond chile peppers: the nuanced Santa Fe cooking of Estevan García at the Tabla de los Santos

We had the pleasure of spending Spanish Market in Santa Fe last July at the Hotel St. Francis, a luxury hotel that strongly resembles a monastery. And while we were there, we enjoyed the cooking of Estevan García, one of the pioneers of refined Southwestern cooking from his days in Los Angeles. A one-time monk himself, he seems right at home at the St. Francis. His cooking is as straightforward and unpretentious as it is subtle and delicious.

We wrote about him for the Boston Globe‘s food section. The piece appeared on May 9. You can find it online here. The article also included García’s recipe for this incredibly rich goat’s milk flan:


Serves 6

The goat’s milk adds a slight tang to this flan. While flans can be rubbery, the long, slow cooking keeps this version smooth and creamy.

2 cups heavy cream, divided
1 cup goat’s milk
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1/4 cup water
1 vanilla bean
4 whole eggs
2 additional egg yolks


1. In a deep pot, combine 1 cup heavy cream and 1 cup goat’s milk.

2. In a shallow nonstick pan, spread 3/4 cup sugar. Sprinkle water over sugar and place over medium heat. Swirl pan to fully dissolve sugar, then continue heating until mixture turns a dark amber. It should look nearly burnt. Remove from heat and divide caramel into six 6-oz. ramekins. Swirl to cover bottoms and spread caramel partly up the sides.

3. Split vanilla bean and scrape seeds into remaining 3/4 cup sugar. Sift the vanilla into the sugar using a fork.

4. Whisk together eggs, extra yolks, and the vanilla-sugar mixture until sugar is dissolved.

5. Over medium heat, warm the cream-milk mixture until it looks like it will boil over. Remove from heat and add the other cup of heavy cream to cool it down.

6. Stir some of cream-milk mixture into eggs to temper them. Then stir the egg mixture into the milk-cream mixture. Fill ramekins.

7. Set the oven at 250 degrees. Place folded dish towel in bottom of a large roasting pan. Place ramekins in pan, taking care that they do not touch each other or the walls of the roasting pan. Place in oven and add enough scalding hot water to come halfway up the ramekins. Bake for three hours or until custards are firm in the middle.

8. Cool ramekins on rack. Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours. To serve, dip ramekins in hot water and use knife to loosen edges. Unmold each onto a small plate or shallow bowl.

Adapted from Estevan Garcia, Tabla de Los Santos, Santa Fe, N.M.


05 2012

Sweet on grandmothers

When it comes to sweets, even the most adventurous chefs seem to have soft spots for their grandmothers’ homey favorites. When Josh Moore, the executive chef at upscale Italian restaurant Volare ( in Louisville, Kentucky, was tapped to prepare the dessert course at a recent taping of the TV cooking show “Secrets of Louisville Chefs Live,” he decided on his grandmother’s recipe for Kentucky Jam Cake.

“It’s very simple,” he told the studio audience. “Mix the wet ingredients. Mix the dry ingredients. Then combine them.” Moore’s grandmother added applesauce for moistness. She also made a decadent caramel frosting. As Moore beat together the butter, sugar, and cream in a stand mixer, it was all I could do not to stand up and ask if I could lick the beaters.

I did, however, have a chance to sample the cake, which is is firm but moist, with a pleasing texture from the chopped nuts. It stands up well to the rich caramel frosting.

The live episodes of “Secrets” are filmed at the Kitchen Theater at Sullivan University’s National Center for Hospitality Studies. Culinary arts students hone their skills at Winston’s Restaurant, a fine dining destination on campus. For information on how to obtain tickets to a live taping, see; to learn more about Winston’s, see

Look no farther for Moore’s grandma’s cake!


1 1/2 cups black raspberry jam
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup applesauce
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon salt
5 eggs
1 1/2 cups chopped black walnuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl by hand until blended. Add all remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into a buttered Bundt cake pan or layer pans and bake for 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool and unmold.


1/2 pound unsalted butter
3 cups brown sugar
2/3 cup heavy cream
3 cups powdered sugar

Cook butter, brown sugar, and cream until it comes to a boil. Let boil for 2 minutes. Put in mixer, add powdered sugar, and stir with paddle attachment until incorporated. Spread hot frosting over cake.

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03 2012

Mad for macarons

Montrealers have come to rival Parisians in their passion for macarons. Slowly but surely, pastry chefs all over the city have learned the techniques of making fabulous macarons – those delicate meringue sandwiches that bear only the slightest relation to the much cruder coconut-based American macaroon.

The leading macaron boutique for our money is Point G (1266 avenue Mont-Royal est; 514-750-7515; The name refers to ”Glaces et Gourmandises,” or ice cream and small pastries. In practice that means some fabulous artisanal ices (including a foie gras ice cream to take home and dollop on steamed asparagus), and close to two dozen inventive flavors of macarons, including lavender-blueberry, roasted pistachio, orange blossom, crème brûlée, lime-basil, and chocolate-hazelnut. The shop even has clear-plastic containers fitted to hold a dozen macarons for take-away.

Le Péché Glacé (2001 avenue Mont-Royal est; 514-525-5768) is best known for the ice creams for which the cafe is named, but also serves macarons filled with coffee, caramel, chocolate, and lemon ice creams. They’re tasty, but the ice cream can make the usually crisp cookies a little gummy.

These elegant treats aren’t just the purview of bakeries and snack shops. Some of Montreal’s best macarons come from the pastry chefs at Restaurant Europea (1227 rue de la Montagne; 514-398-9229;, the fine-dining restaurant of master chef Jérôme Ferrer. The restaurant rivals our long-time favorite Restaurant Toqué! (900 Place Jean-Paul-Riopelle; 514-499-2084; as the top destination dining in Montreal. Ferrer is quite the entrepreneur. His Old Montreal snack shop Espace Boutique Europea (33 rue Notre-Dame ouest; 514-844-1572; often has macarons in the dessert case, and they’re often available as dessert at his Bistro le Beaver Hall (1073 Côte du Beaver Hall; 514-866-1331; You can even buy a box of these sublime macarons at Birks Café (1240 place Phillips; 514-397-2468;, which sits on the mezzanine of Montreal’s most exclusive jewelry store.

Ferrer also offers cooking classes at Atelier Europea (, the workshop in the basement of the flagship restaurant. The sessions on making macarons are taught by pastry chef Olivier Michallet, whose resume includes a stint at the legendary Paris pastry shop Ladurée, often considered the pinnacle of Parisian macarons. The classes are usually conducted in French, but cooking transcends language. They fill quickly, but David was able to secure a slot when we were there in early November finishing our research for Food Lovers’ Guide to Montreal.


Makes 5 dozen cookies (30 sandwiches)

This is the recipe that the Atelier Europea uses in its classes. We have kept the original metric weights for ingredients because, as with all meringue-based recipes, weighing gives more consistent results than measuring by volume.


300 grams almond flour
300 grams powdered sugar
6 egg whites
90 grams water
300 grams granulated sugar


1. In a large bowl, combine almond flour and powdered sugar. Mix well. Add 3 egg whites and blend until thoroughly mixed to a smooth paste.

2. Add water to a non-reactive pot and stir in granulated sugar. Heat on low, stirring until sugar is well dissolved. Raise heat to high and monitor temperature with candy thermometer while preparing egg whites for meringue. Syrup should not exceed 121˚C (250˚F).

3. Place 3 egg whites in a metal mixing bowl (ideally in a stand mixer) and whip to medium peaks—not soft, but not stiff.

4. When sugar syrup reaches a temperature of 121˚C (250˚F), remove pot from heat. With mixer running, slowly pour syrup down side of bowl into egg whites. Increase speed of mixer and whip until whites form very glossy high peaks. Set meringue aside to cool.

5. Once meringue is cooled to warm room temperature, stir about a third of the meringue into the almond-sugar paste to incorporate well. Gently fold in the rest of the meringue.

6. Using a pastry bag with a 3/8-inch round tip, deposit about a teaspoon of batter per cookie onto parchment-covered baking sheet. Space about 1 inch apart. When baking sheet is covered, tap on counter to make batter settle. (Cover remaining batter with plastic wrap before assembling the next tray.)

7. Let sit uncovered for 15–30 minutes to allow a light crust to form. This helps ensure the desired texture of creamy interior and crunchy outer shell.

8. Preheat oven to 180˚C (350˚F).

9. Bake for 6–7 minutes, rotating pan halfway through.

10. Let fully cool on parchment paper. Then remove and make sandwiches. Europea macarons are often filled with rich and complex sweets like caramel fleur de sel buttercream, raspberry buttercream, chocolate ganache, or lemon curd. But we have found that purchased lemon curd or raspberry jam—or fresh berries—sure impress our friends.


02 2011

Pouding chômeur – dessert on a shoestring

One Quebecois comfort food that doesn’t seem to have crossed over into fine dining is the very old-fashioned cake and syrup dessert known as pouding chômeur. It translates literally as ”the jobless person’s pudding,” although most English versions of the recipe call it ”Poor Man’s Pudding.” (Anglophone Montrealers call it pouding chômeur.) Either way, the original version is real Depression food, with a cake that’s like a butter-deprived biscuit dough and a brown sugar syrup. But as pouding chômeur makes its comeback on luncheonette menus, the cake is often more buttery and the syrup is maple. This recipe brings together some of the best we’ve tasted. The vinegar in the syrup curdles the cream, giving the syrup an instantly thicker texture.


Serves 6


For syrup:
1 1/4 cups maple syrup (dark amber)
3/4 cup light cream
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt

For cake batter:
6 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 350F. Have an 8x8x2 pan ready.

Make the syrup. Combine the syrup ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to mix well. Remove from heat.

Make the cake batter. Cream butter and sugar with mixer until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt; mix well. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, add flour mixture to butter-sugar mixture and mix until incorporated.

Pour 3/4 cup of syrup into pan. Spoon batter over syrup. (Batter will expand to cover any gaps.) Pour remainder of syrup over the batter. Bake 25-30 minutes until top is golden and firm to the touch. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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02 2011

Sweet and tart — the Shaker take on lemon pie

The Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Kentucky, is one of my favorite Shaker sites to visit. Although it hasn’t been a working Shaker community for decades, it’s the largest preserved Shaker village in the country. Moreover, it is the only one that offers both overnight lodging and a good restaurant.

I wrote about it last week in the Boston Globe‘s Food section in a piece called “A menu that reflects Shaker simplicity.” The article deals with the new chef Patrick Kelly’s “Seed to Table” program. His menus in the restaurant feature food from his kitchen garden and from farms in the adjacent bluegrass country near Lexington. Not only is the program in keeping with the locavore trends in contemporary dining, it also echoes the Shaker preoccupation with simplicity.

Kelly is just into his second year at Pleasant Hill, and there are some old-fashioned dishes on the menu that may not reflect his locavore culinary bent, but are so beloved by the restaurant’s patrons that he can’t take them off the menu.

One of those is the Shaker lemon pie. (Even with the summer heat, lemons don’t grow in Kentucky.) It is, however, a remarkably simple pie and makes a surprising dessert. It might seem counterintuitive to cook with the lemon rind, but it produces an interesting texture. And the ingredients are always available at almost any supermarket (including the pie crust).



2 large lemons
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, well beaten
pastry for 9-inch double pie crust


1. Slice lemons as thin as paper, rind and all. Combine with sugar; mix well. Let stand two hours, or preferably overnight, blending occasionally.

2. Add eggs to sugared lemons. Mix well.

3. Turn mixture into 9-inch pie shell, arranging lemon slices evenly. Cover with top crust. Cut several slits near center.

4. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake for about 20 minutes or until knife inserted near edge of pie comes out clean.

Cool before serving.


07 2010

Black pepper, red wine, and strawberries

The conjunction of strawberry season with this series of blogs about French cooking takes us back to our first introduction to lightened French cuisine, which was not in France at all but in the second largest French-speaking city in the world, Montreal. Les Halles opened in 1971 as a grand Escoffier-like townhouse palace of dining in a city best known to that point for its great baked beans with salt pork. When Dominique Crevoisier took over as chef in the early 1980s, he skillfully blended the haute with the nouvelle to create magical meals that didn’t give the patrons gout. He gave us the best idea of what to do with leftover red wine: Turn it into a peppered syrup to serve on strawberries! He added his own touch by tossing the berries with grated lime zest, which is a surprising complement to the black pepper. Alas, Les Halles closed five years ago, but the dining revolution launched by Les Halles has made Montreal one of the great restaurant cities of North America. And every strawberry season Crevoisier’s red wine-black pepper syrup lives on.



2 cups intense red wine (cabernet sauvignon, syrah, etc.)
2 Tablespoons black peppercorns
1/4 cup sugar


1. Combine ingredients in large skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until reduced to 1/3 cup of syrup.

2. Strain to remove peppercorns.

3. Cool and serve with sliced strawberries tossed with lime zest and a small scoop of vanilla ice cream.


06 2010

Rum cake finds a new incarnation

Hot Miami chef Dean James Max (who happens to be up for a James Beard restaurateur award this year) is also the talent behind one of our favorite Grand Cayman restaurants, The Brasserie. Part of what makes The Brasserie so terrific is that Max and his staff use local fish, local produce, and all kinds of goodies they grow in the restaurant garden. The menu is also inspired by Caribbean traditions. Of the restaurant’s complex chicken pepper-pot soup, he says, “The peppers you get here on Grand Cayman are just incredible.”

So leave it to Max to find a fun use for the ubiquitous island confection, Tortuga rum cake. (You might recall that we wrote about the cake in What to buy in a grocery store on Grand Cayman Island.)

Alas, we consumed the last of our rum cake stash in late January, so we’ll have to wait for a return visit to make this bread pudding, which we have slightly adapted from his recipe in the April issue of his newsletter. Max comments, “This has been such a cold winter, even for us in Florida, that we really need to coax in the warm summer with a great island style rum cake. I hope you enjoy this simple and tasty recipe! Bring on the heat.”


Serves 6


8 oz. Tortuga Rum Cake (diced)
2 cups cream
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 vanilla bean
4 eggs
1 cup dried sour cherries
1/4 cup Tortuga rum
3 Tablespoons soft butter


1. Toast the diced cake pieces on a baking sheet in the oven until they dry slightly and become crisp. Let cool.

2. Mix cream, sugar, and vanilla bean in a saucepan and heat until hot. Remove from heat.

3. In a small bowl, beat the eggs. Stir a small amount of hot cream into the eggs to temper them, then blend eggs slowly into the cream.

4. In a separate small saucepan, heat the rum and cherries and let them soak until cooled. Add cherry-rum mix to the egg-cream mixture.

5. Generously butter a baking pan and scatter the cake pieces to completely cover. Pour the custard over the bread and let it soak at room temperature for 10 minutes.

6. Set the baking dish in a water bath in a preheated 325 degree oven. Cover top loosely with foil and bake for about 30 minutes or until the custard has set. Remove dish from oven; remove foil and let cool. Cut the pudding and serve warm or chilled.


04 2010

Summer’s bequest: blueberry bread pudding

Please forgive the shameless plug, but the second edition of our locavore book, Food Lovers’ Guide to Massachusetts, has just been published by Globe Pequot Press. We love researching the farmstands, restaurants, bakeries, fishmongers, chocolatiers, and cheesemakers that are featured in the book. Food people are some of the nicest and most generous folk in the world, and they remind us that we don’t have to go to exotic locales for wonderful tastes. We are already at work on the next edition.

Of all the great places in the book, Tower Hill Botanic Garden (11 French Drive, Boylston, MA 01505, 508-869-6111,, home base of the Worcester County Horticultural Society, is one of the best places to learn about New England heirloom apples. The society maintains one of the most comprehensive collections of New England heirloom apple trees in its orchard and even sells scions for grafting in the spring.

Ironically, the delicious recipe that Cecile Collier, chef at the botanic garden’s Twigs Cafe, shared with us for Food Lovers is for blueberry bread pudding. Craving a little taste of summer, we made one this week with our last cup of frozen berries.

With apologies to Massachusetts, we confess to being Maine wild blueberry chauvinists. David grew up in coastal Maine, and spent many backbreaking summer days raking wild blueberries for the local cannery. We’re both convinced that the flavor of one tiny wild blueberry is greater than the flavor of a half dozen larger cultivated berries. So during the brief season from late July into mid-August, we drive up to Maine and buy them from enterprising pickers who sell along the side of Route 1. What we can’t eat immediately, we save by spreading them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freezing. Within an hour they’re ready for heavy-duty freezer bags. When we pulled them out six months later for this recipe, they were as tasty as they were in August.



4 eggs
2 cups half-and-half
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
7 to 8 slices of stale bread, crusts removed
1 cup blueberries
Nutmeg to taste


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine and blend eggs, half-and-half, milk, 3/4 cup sugar, and vanilla.

2. Tear up bread and mix with blueberries. Place in a 9-by-5-inch bread pan. Pour egg mixture over bread and berries in pan. Sprinkle with nutmeg and 2 tablespoons sugar.

3. Place loaf pan into a larger baking pan that has been filled halfway with hot water. Bake for 60-75 minutes, until pudding is set and top is browned.

4. Serve pudding warm, pairing each dish with a small sidecar of vanilla ice cream.

Serves 4.


02 2010

French Chocolate Mousse for Valentine’s Day

We have been racking our brains for something special to conclude our Valentine’s Day dinner. We simply lack the skills to reproduce our all-time favorite dessert from Fauchon, the amazing gourmet shop, tea house, and patisserie on Place de Madeleine in Paris. That would be Megève cake—perfect thin layers of crisp meringue with chocolate ganache and chocolate mousse.

But we did recall a dynamite, foolproof version of chocolate mousse given to us by a French housewife, Madame Picavet. Given that Monsieur Picavet was very fond of Burgundy, it made the perfect companion to the last glass in the bottle. She used dark chocolate, but we’ve had good luck using an American bittersweet chocolate like Ghirardelli 60% cacao chips.



6 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup of whole milk


Place ingredients through vanilla extract in blender jar.

Heat milk until nearly boiling. Add to blender jar and blend two minutes. Pour into six cups and chill for at least three hours. Serve topped with sweetened whipped cream.

Serves 6.


02 2010